Celtic Diva's Blue Oasis: Gov. Sarah Palin gives Commissioner of Public Safety the Axe

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Gov. Sarah Palin gives Commissioner of Public Safety the Axe

Walt Monegan, former Anchorage Police chief, was fired by the Governor's Office Friday per this story by Kyle Hopkins:
Gov. Sarah Palin appointed Walt Monegan as commissioner of public safety shortly after her election in 2006. On Friday, Palin's chief of staff told Monegan he was being replaced.

The news came "out of the blue," said Monegan, a former Anchorage police chief.

"If the governor was upset with me for one thing or another, it had never been communicated to me," he said in an interview Saturday evening.

The big question -- why? -- went largely unanswered Saturday.

Palin spokeswoman Sharon Leighow said the governor is now at the halfway point of her term and it's natural for her to make changes.

Palin wanted the public safety department headed in a new direction, Leighow said.

Asked Saturday what Palin wants to change, Leighow said she didn't have details.

"The governor feels that the department of public safety could be better served under new management," she said.

(Kyle has more information on Alaska Politics blog, including the email from Monegan to his employees.)

This is a very large concern, especially for those who felt that there was FINALLY someone in that office who truly had reducing Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault in rural Alaska as a priority.

In May, Walt Monegan actually attended and was a panel member at the "Building Momentum" Conference put on by Alaska Native Justice Center. He responded to many questions lobbed at him from the audience of determined women:
Why are victims treated poorly by certain prosecutors and law enforcement officers? Shouldn't officers be required to use the specially trained Sexual Assault Response Teams whenever possible?

As to the last question, the answer for troopers is definitely yes, Monegan said. The teams help gather evidence, identify suspects and begin the healing process for victims, Monegan said.

If any trooper is rude to or insensitive with a victim, he said he wants to know about it.

At that conference, several studies were discussed regarding the extent of sexual assault in rural Alaska, who the victims and perpetrators were as well as some of the solutions to the problem.

Increasing law enforcement is not the only solution, but is an important part of it:
Federal authorities have created a "maze of tribal, state and federal jurisdictions" that slows response times and limits who can respond, according to the study. Sexual assaults and rapes on reservations and in villages sometimes get lost in "jurisdictional vacuums," allowing some perpetrators to "rape with impunity."
Alaska officials said they're working to get more manpower and money to areas lacking police.

Those officials have been Sen. Donnie Olsen...
This year, state lawmakers led by Sen. Donny Olson, D-Nome, approved more money for village public safety officers, who serve as first responders for all kinds of crises even though they aren't allowed to be armed, Colberg said. They'll be paid more, and there will be more of them. That should help with turnover, which is terribly high.
...and Walt Monegan:
Palin has called for cuts to the public safety budget, while Monegan wanted more troopers, said John Cyr, executive director of the Public Safety Employees Association.
So the comment from Leighow, that "Palin wanted the public safety department headed in a new direction" looms rather ominously considering where Walt Monegan appeared to be going.

Governor Palin, what direction are you taking public safety, exactly?

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Blogger Art Vandelay said...

3 things bother me about this firing.
1. Why didn't the governor do this face-to-face? He deserved that much. This seems cowardly of her.
2. Why offer him a job that was subordinate to his old position. She knew he would never accept this. This seems disingenuous of her. If you want to fire someone, fire them. Don't offer them a job you know they will turn down.
3. The troopers seem to really respect him (at least that is what the trooper union is saying).

This firing seems a bit odd to me.

7/13/2008 12:17 PM  
Blogger CelticDiva said...

Walt had a heck of a lot of support when he was in Anchorage, as well.

This seems very odd to me as well and I don't think this is a good thing for Rural Alaska.

7/13/2008 1:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tonight's news was horrible. The new dude, Kopp, said he was innocent of all previous charges, Walt Monegan is still waiting for answers, and the governor had no comment.

Unreal. :o(


7/15/2008 11:08 PM  

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